Tony Moore, Robert Kirkman’s high school friend and the original artist on The Walking Dead, has filed a lawsuit against Kirkman, according to The Hollywood Reporter. According to an exclusive report, the suit alleges that the Skybound Studios founder has not paid Moore his share of revenue from the lucrative franchise and that Moore has been denied access to financial documents that would make his interest more clear.
According to the lawsuit filed by Moore, he is owed 60% of the comics revenue and 20% of the TV/movie revenue generated by The Walking Dead and Brit, but has received very little money and that Kirkman’s people “have not issued a single statement or allowed access to their books and records in accordance with the reporting obligations of the agreement.”
Moore’s suit seems to claim that Kirkman entered into the 2005 negotiations–which Kirkman allegedly told him were necessary in order to make the TV deal with AMC work–in bad faith and that the entire agreement was a fraud. It was for this reason that Moore apparently settled for the 20% rather than the 50% he claims to be owed, as he believed that the entire thing might not happen if a settlement wasn’t reached quickly.
“Each of these works was prepared by [Moore] and Kirkman with the intention that their contributions be merged into inseparable or independent parts of a unitary whole,” Moore’s complaint says. “[Moore] and Kirkman were thus joint authors and co-owners of the copyrights in these works.”
The Walking Dead, cable’s highest-rated series and the highest-rated show in AMC’s history, will return to the airwaves on Sunday for the remainder of its second season. The comic book series is rapidly nearing its hundredth issue and is consistently the best-selling trade paperback in the comics industry, according to the monthly statements released by Diamond Comics Distributors.
All told, the suit alleges promissory fraud, breach of written contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, money had an received and accounting.
Allen Grodzky, an attorney for Kirkman, called the case “totally frivolous. Mr. Moore is owed no money at all. And Mr. Moore’s contract has an attorneys’ fees clause in it so we will be going after him to collect attorneys’ fees.”
This controversy comes on the heels of nearly two weeks of copyright and ownership controversies in the comics industry; DC’s Before Watchmen announcement infuriated not only writer Alan Moore but also many fans and creators who feel he was dealt unfairly with in the 1980s and after, and yesterday a story broke wide on the Internet that Ghost Rider co-creator Gary Friedrich was found responsible for $17,000 in debt to Marvel Comics/Disney after his copyright claim against the media giant failed. He was instructed to make payment for money he had raised selling unlicensed Ghost Rider prints and an injunction now prevents him from referring to himself as “the creator of Ghost Rider” for monetary gain.
Image Comics, the publisher of The Walking Dead, was founded twenty years ago last week when seven high-profile artists left DC Comics and Marvel Comics and started their own company, primarily to retain their own intellectual property rights and the increasingly-lucrative reprint and multimedia revenue those properties were generating. The last major intellectual property lawsuit between one of Image’s creators was resolved late last month when, after a decade of litigation, Image co-founder Todd McFarlane settled with legendary comics writer Neil Gaiman over copyrights to characters Gaiman created for Spawn.